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Celine

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I am a holidaymaker in France and yes, from time to time I look in the various forums about gites. I am becoming more and more disillusioned with owners who complain about their guests for various reasons. I guess a lot of it revolves round the money aspect, but all the suggestions of blacklisting, withholding refunds and such, is really putting us customers off.

I'm sure there are some very demanding, even difficult guests, but it seems every little thing is getting picked on. It makes me wary what I as the renter might find.
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Celine it does seem to work both ways, visitors seem to scan many adverts before making their decision and may in my opinion actually believe they have booked a property with other features than actually stated.

In a conversation between an owner and guest the other day, the guest insisted that the advert said free wifi Internet. This meant the owner having to print off every page of the website and go through each page to show there was no mention of wifi anywhere, was there an apology, nope.

Some people just seem to want to argue over tiny details, a flood lamp was out over one part of the courtyard there are 4 others but the guests made it sound like the place was going to fall down and started demanding a money back. The property is immaculate and set amongst four acres of beautiful gardens but the small minded visitors just moaned about a flood lamp. I supplied the owner with a new flood lamp bulb so they could shut the guests up and that wasn't right either.

The owners rent to French people, also recently a dignitary from Scandinavia who wrote a stunning letter of how much they enjoyed their stay, could that be the same place as the whining Brits had stayed??

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Thank you Théirère.

So I am encouraged to check first with the owner to avoid misunderstanding. Trouble is, owners might think you are a pain if you keep asking questions. ie. a difficult customer before you even get there?
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I hate to say this Celine but you're right, when I had a gite and I got lists of questions I always thought  'oh gawd, one of 'those' again!' hope they dont book.

I enjoyed the experience in general but did get some stupid questions, one was is the pool up to the requirements of my son who is an international swimmer, now the advert said 10x6 pool, how tricky is it to decide for yourself if its big enough or was it just boasting about the achievements of offspring??  My response, no it isn't, sorry!

It definately works both ways you can get bad renters, bad owners, but I would never compain about a light being out as per the above, I go on holiday with a hope of a relaxing time not to nit pick sadly some people dont think that way and just want to have a moan.

My adivce, chose one you like the look of, ask about those things that would ruin your holiday if not in place, dont ask DAFT questions.

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[quote user="Panda"]

I enjoyed the experience in general but did get some stupid questions, one was is the pool up to the requirements of my son who is an international swimmer, now the advert said 10x6 pool, how tricky is it to decide for yourself if its big enough or was it just boasting about the achievements of offspring??  [/quote]

Even International swimmers must practice their turns [:)]

 

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I have just had a call from a future guest who sent her deposit 8 weeks ago.

She has just realised the balance of the payment, which she thought she'd pay on arrival, is due on Saturday.

She had not read the T&C, the contract nor the email I sent her after I received her deposit, all of which state clearly the balance is due 8 weeks before arrival.

The confirmation email even gives her the actual date on which the balance is due... [blink]

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[quote user="Celine"]I am a holidaymaker in France and yes, from time to time I look in the various forums about gites. I am becoming more and more disillusioned with owners who complain about their guests for various reasons. I guess a lot of it revolves round the money aspect, but all the suggestions of blacklisting, withholding refunds and such, is really putting us customers off.

I'm sure there are some very demanding, even difficult guests, but it seems every little thing is getting picked on. It makes me wary what I as the renter might find.[/quote]

When you read about the reasons that owners talk about withholding deposits, blacklisting clients etc, do you think that the behaviour of the "offending" guest is reasonable? Would you demand your money back if an external bulb needed replacing? Would you think it reasonable to void your bowels in the shower and leave the faecal matter there for the owner to clear up? Would you feel that you should have the cost of your holiday refunded by an owner because you cannot fly (due to an inconsiderate volcano) and you didn't take out holiday insurance that covered the eventuality? Do you blame the owner for a misunderstanding that costs you money because you did not bother reading the terms and conditions?

If you do think that owners are unreasonable to be irritated (or frankly horrified!) by guests who think that type of behaviour is reasonable perhaps should continue to feel put off because you may not be who most owners want as a guest. [:P]

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Many moons ago when I worked on the fringes of the hospitality business, it was said that one negative experience for a guest about a business took ten positive ones before the goodwill was regained.  I suspect it is the same the other way around in that after one horrid customer it takes ten good ones to restore the gite owner's faith in humanity!  I would guess that if we had fora for each and every profession, that many of them would be dominated by moans and groans, not full of the positive side of whichever career path were being discussed.  It's the nature of the beast.  It's a forum for the owners and I guess they need to "vent" occasionally.

However, I do take the o/p's point - I frequently find myself shouting at the screen on this particular board: "WE'RE NOT ALL LIKE THAT, YOU KNOW!"[;-)]

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Catalpa, I would certainly never dream of doing any damage to a property and my standards of personal hygiene are very high, thank you. Unfortunately, I guess some guests are not so careful.

What concerns me is more the other way round. What if I arrive at a gite to find the hot water not switched on or an essential item missing or broken. From the discussions I read, I am starting to worry that the owner might not see this as any big deal and might not be willing to offer compensation or a refund.

I understand the owner has a business to run and that money plays a big part, but I too have worked very hard to pay for my stay, so are his woes my problem?
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[quote user="Celine"]Catalpa, I would certainly never dream of doing any damage to a property and my standards of personal hygiene are very high, thank you.[/quote]

I'm sure they are.[:D] But you presumably saw the thread in the B&B section where a guest was not as scrupulous and did indeed leave his hosts a very special farewell gift in the shower?

[quote user="Celine"]What if I arrive at a gite to find the hot water not switched on or an

essential item missing or broken. From the discussions I read, I am

starting to worry that the owner might not see this as any big deal and

might not be willing to offer compensation or a refund.

[/quote]

Presumably you wouldn't open discussions about a problem with an immediate expectation of compensation or a refund? You would tell the owner (or manager) about a problem as soon as possible after you've discovered it and then expect them to sort it quickly and keep you informed about progress?

If major things like hot water are not working, or a truly essential item

is missing or broken then most owners or their managers will jump through

hoops trying to put things right as soon as they are told there's a

problem. There will always be some that don't but the majority try very hard to deliver to the client's expectations because they're nice people [;-)] and anyway, you only succeed in the hospitality business by meeting - or preferably exceeding - the client's expectations.

When you're considering booking somewhere you do need to be judgemental about what you're seeing on a website or in a leaflet and ask as many questions as you feel necessary to make you comfortable with parting with a (usually non-refundable) deposit. That's fair, reasonable and sensible. But it is then up to the client to be scrupulous in understanding what is or is not included in the rental especially if something is really important to them - like an Olympic-size swimming pool. [:D] Just as owners get an idea about potential clients via the questions

(and number of them!) that are asked, you will get a good idea sense of the efficiency and style of the owner by the way

the owner deals with your enquiries. It's when a client doesn't read or listen to the answers that problems can arise. Or that books in February and doesn't bother revisiting the "what is / what is not included" before travelling in July.

But bear in mind that what you're reading on forums is generally owners letting off steam about the probably less than 5% difficult or plain nightmare clients. Normally no one posts about the delightful guests who left a bottle of wine for the owners, a glowing testimonial on TripAdvisor and on arriving home, re-books for next year.

  

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I must admit that we do have one gite that is on electric heating and in 2 years I have forgotten to turn it on for the first guests of the season. We have always been very sorry and have always turned it on straight away and have hot water in a hour. We also always have gone around with the bottle of wine to apologies.

These things happen from time to time with most people I would imagine or atleast the ones willing to say it happened.

Never had any essential items missing or broken. Plenty of things broken, Stained, torn etc and never told about them. It always gets me that they don't say as we don't take a breakage deposit so how could we make them pay, We just like people to be honest and upfront and unless its something really expensive thats been abused were cool about it.
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You are so right in your last paragraph Catalpa. It seems you British are very good at commiserating over disasters, but find it difficult to pat on the back and offer praise! So maybe a few good customer stories would redress the balance.

It seems to me that gites owned by nice caring owners as you say are plentiful, so yes, I will be discerning in my choice, it's just that one or two horror comments from owners can be off putting.

The shower episode I just read sounds none too pleasant for the poor owner I must admit.
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I do remember stopping once in a small town en route to Perpignan.

We asked the small hotel - well, more a cafe/bar place which offered rooms - if they had any spare accommodation for the night.

They said they would have but it hadn't been prepared yet as the previous guests had only just left.

We pleaded with them to let us see it so we could make a decision (really anxious to know we would be able to rest our weary heads somewhere comfortable that night)

Well, they showed us the room - my god!! Is that how people leave places?

The bathroom was a disgrace.

Dirty towels were all over the place.

The toilet hadn't even been flushed.

The bed was worse than my teenage son's on a really bad day.

And that was bad!

My heart goes out to you poor folk trying to run a hospitality business with customers like this.
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[quote user="Celine"] It seems you British are very good at commiserating over disasters, but find it difficult to pat on the back and offer praise! So maybe a few good customer stories would redress the balance. ........ it's just that one or two horror comments from owners can be off putting.

The shower episode I just read sounds none too pleasant for the poor owner I must admit.[/quote]

I think reading a section on a forum like this, which is a probably one of the few places on the internet where those actively engaged in this type of hospitality CAN go and let off a bit of steam, is not especially representative of "us Brits". After all, if you were in the hospitality business, struggling with the guests from hell, it wouldn't necessarily bolster your self-esteem or cheer you up to read lots of glowing reports of how everyone else (or indeed anyone else) was enjoying catering to the most wonderful people, with charming manners and the highest standards of cleanliness. What you're reading is the outpourings of a fair number of people, engaged in a difficult business, all gathered in one place. It's not a section of the forum that's been designed to pander to the sensibilities of the customer, or potential customer....there are whole websites which cater to that need. As Cooperlola points out, most people reading of the antics of some of the less desirable guests know that they would never behave in that way. One thing that this section DOES provide is a useful catalogue of the problems and pitfalls of running such a business. And, as such, it is also providing a valuable service to those who might consider entering the trade, and who don't always realise that once in a while they may come across the "guests from hell".

If your own conscience is clear, and if you believe you're a considerate guest, then I don't see the problem. I'm sure that any one of the Gite/B&B owners on here would welcome you with open arms, treat you as you would expect to be treated, and provide you with an enjoyable holiday.

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[quote user="Thebiga"]I must admit that we do have one gite that is on electric heating and in 2 years I have forgotten to turn it on for the first guests of the season. We have always been very sorry and have always turned it on straight away and have hot water in a hour. We also always have gone around with the bottle of wine to apologies.

These things happen from time to time with most people I would imagine or atleast the ones willing to say it happened.

Never had any essential items missing or broken. Plenty of things broken, Stained, torn etc and never told about them. It always gets me that they don't say as we don't take a breakage deposit so how could we make them pay, We just like people to be honest and upfront and unless its something really expensive thats been abused were cool about it.[/quote]

Perhaps if you had taken a security deposit you would not have had so many problems with your Gite guests and you could have charged for cleaning, missing glasses etc. Your posts above and your rant earlier http://www.completefrance.com/cs/forums/2127129/ShowPost.aspx do not seem to agree at all.

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I can only sympathise with the gite owners. Guests have plenty of ways of perpetuating their minor whinges, such as trip advisor. Owners have to just grin and bear it. Only last weekend we were talking about this with one of the owners of a smallish hotel in which we were staying in Northern England. They were justifiably a bit miffed that a poor review had knocked them off the top spot for the town on trip advisor. The complaints were that the carpets were 'lurid' (exactly the sort of lightly patterned Wilton-type floor coverings you would expect to find in an Edwardian period house), the chairs in the dining room came from Ikea (wherever they came from, they were comfortable and in keeping with the rest of the furniture), there was a hard plum and ancient banana on the breakfast buffet (plenty of other fruit when we were there), the toast was white (we were offered a choice of white or brown) and the marmalade was in plastic sachets.

As the owner said, that's one person's opinion, and the final sentence of the review - that guests would be better off in one of the two chain hotels in the town centre - probably said it all. Another, earlier, review complained that the walk to the town centre was too far and through derelict, threatening surroundings - all the brochures etc made it plain that it was a short taxi or bus ride to the town, and we had been surprised by the general cleanliness and friendliness of the town and its surroundings. You can't please everybody, but it makes one question the expectations of some guests. Maybe some people visit merely to find fault?

It looks as if Judie's more favourable review has now moved this hotel back to its deserved top spot. [:)]

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Jimmy, How do posts not agree? Perhaps it was the fact that we had just got rid of some guests that we would not like back and fancied a general rant. You never have days like that then?

We do not take a breakage deposit because unless you bank the cheque its not worth anything as a deposit is it. Well when it comes to doing taxes etc at that time of year it can look very funny to some french jobsworth that you may have taken more money than you have said you have.

This could open up a whole can of worms really. They can see that the money has come in and that you have then sent out cheques for the same amount, It could even look like money laundering could it not. We don't take any breakage deposit because of the problems it may cause down the line, its bad enough having the everyday RSI hassles etc without other ones aswell.

It makes no difference whether my posts seem to agree or not at the end of the day. Some guests P*ss me off some don't. Some horrid children go around wrecking the garden, some don't. Some people on this forum seem to be looking for a argument and pick posts to bits and some are very helpful and don't.
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[quote user="Thebiga"] We do not take a breakage deposit because unless you bank the cheque its not worth anything as a deposit is it. Well when it comes to doing taxes etc at that time of year it can look very funny to some french jobsworth that you may have taken more money than you have said you have. This could open up a whole can of worms really. They can see that the money has come in and that you have then sent out cheques for the same amount, It could even look like money laundering could it not. We don't take any breakage deposit because of the problems it may cause down the line, its bad enough having the everyday RSI hassles etc without other ones aswell. .[/quote]

ALWAYS bank the deposit cheque & then issue a refund - in 7 years we have never had a problem with our accountants about security deposits....all the gite owners I know take one - French as well as English....think you will find it is the norm & quite frankly you are opening yourselves up to abuse if you dont take a security deposit.  Have only had to retain part of a deposit 3 times & in each case our £150/wk was not enough to repair the damage, but at least we had something towards the costs.

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[quote user="betoulle"]

ALWAYS bank the deposit cheque & then issue a refund - in 7 years we have never had a problem with our accountants about security deposits....all the gite owners I know take one - French as well as English....think you will find it is the norm & quite frankly you are opening yourselves up to abuse if you dont take a security deposit.  Have only had to retain part of a deposit 3 times & in each case our £150/wk was not enough to repair the damage, but at least we had something towards the costs.

[/quote]

I agree - we have always taken a deposit and never had to retain anything and no problems with the tax man. We have had the usuall breakages, glasses and the like, but all minor and all replaced without hassle. Gites and B&B are a business and if you can't cover costs it's not worth the effort, as you seem to have found out Thebiga.

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Yes but thebiga fully believes they are right, yet has taken time to post how many of the guests have taken advantage of them. It would seem obvious to me that unless something changes thebiga's opinion then we will have to read chapter after chapter.

If something isn't working then change it. Personally the guests have paid for the holiday but the thought of loosing the deposit money should play on the mind of the thickest person.

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1. Frankly its not worth the effort unless you are taking more than we do in a season.

2. No bother about reading chapter after chapter I shall leave it here, But of course unless someone answers the chapters die up.

3. Perhaps we have learned something about people running this place, some good some bad.

4. Never have a problem with any French guests but when we do have problems its always the brits.

5. First time running our own business and probably our last but weve had a great time overall here in france and the lifestyle. Also it beats looking out onto another block of concrete.

Still woun't take any breakage deposit though we like to trust our guests and most we can.
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Not really a question of trust.....we trust our guests completely & have many regulars to prove that our formula works, but once in a while you will get a family who just don't care....usually late bookers, looking for a last minute bargain, invariably those who are not used to clearing up after themselves in the 'real world', children are either in private school or looked after by nannies etc  For those the security deposit is neither here nor there......that is just the way they are.  I would say 95% of our guests are decent, honest people who tell us when something is broken or if there is a spill & we never take anything out of the security deposit.  However, when there has been willfull damage by bored teenagers, especially when it means our facilities have to be closed for a period of time to other guests or it affects the next guests stay, or results in me throwing away a whole weeks linen due to 'stubborn stains' then a security deposit that can be witheld, just helps cushion the anger...........

 

As a footnote, a security deposit can be a useful tool for securing a repeat booking...at the end of a guests stay I always say that if you would like to come back & wish to reserve a specific week for the next year, then  rather than refund the money it can be used as a deposit for a provisional booking - 100% refundable if they have a change of plan before Xmas...this year in our larger gite I have a re-run of last years guests....15 weeks worth......& already have a couple of provisional bookings for next year......

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